Coming to Know the Lord as Our Father – Healing 2023


Do you truly live out of your identity as a son or daughter of God? It is easy to lose sight of who we are when we also struggle to know who God is. Sr. Orianne Pietra René speaks about the challenges you might face in coming to see God as a loving and good Father, and helps you root out the lies and embrace the inheritance that was meant for you. 

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Reflective Study Guide Questions

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us” 

Saint John Paul the Great

1. We often refer to Jesus and God in terms of human relationships–friend, brother, teacher, bridegroom, father–and we may inadvertently project our wounds from those relationships onto God, hindering our understanding of God and of ourselves. Do you have any wounds from your personal and familial relationships that might be clouding your vision of who God is?

2. Sr. Oriannne Pietra René says that there are two “camps” of lies that people tend to fall into in their relationship with God–people who believe that God could not love them for who they are or people who believe that they have “earned” God’s love in some way. Which camp do you tend to fall into? How has this viewpoint affected your view of God?

3. Jesus interacts with people from each of these camps throughout the Gospels–from eating with the sinners and tax collectors to disciplining the Pharisees. Consider reading through some of these passages and pay attention to how Christ interacts with them. What might God be speaking to you in these interactions? How might God be calling you into a deeper relationship with Him?

4. Rooting out the lies we have come to believe about ourselves and God can involve some uncomfortable work but it is worth it to be able to know and love God more fully. What is the next step you need to take for your own healing? How can you honor your worth as a son or daughter of the King in yourself and in others?

Text: Coming to Know the Lord as Our Father

Hello, I’m Sister Orianne Pietra Rene, I’m a daughter of St. Paul and I’m very excited to be praying with you today. Before we begin, I’d like to open with a prayer and just asking the Lord to help us especially to understand who He is as Father because that can be very difficult for many of us, who we are as children who cry, Abba, Father to Him and trusting ourselves, our very identity, our very legacy, our very heritage to His love. And so, we pray in the words that Jesus taught us. 

Our Father

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen. 

What are the Lies You Tell Yourself?

What lies do you believe about yourself? Are there lies that you know you believe about yourself? And maybe there are things that you believe about yourself you don’t even realize are lies, that they’re not true, they’re not real, they’re not actual, that we give them power, but they don’t have any power in and of themselves if we didn’t believe them. We all have some lie that we buy into about ourselves and often it’s because of this lie that we buy into about ourselves or about who God is, that we choose to sin, that we choose to say no to God and yes to something other than Him. 

When we understand who we are in God’s eyes a lot of these things change. When we understand who God is our desire for Him increases, our longing to say yes to Him increases. We might still have to build up our ability to do it and our reliance on the Spirit to help us, but the desire grows because we’re letting more of Him in. We’re getting to know Him better. This can be very difficult because we largely understand the Lord through familial or friendship terms. 

We use these human understandings of relationship to help understand who God is to us in His entirety. So, we speak of Jesus as our friend. We speak of Him as our brother, as our bridegroom, as our savior. We speak of God as the Father. God the Father calls His children. Jesus called His disciples children on the side of the Sea of Tiberias when they were fishing after His resurrection. He calls them friends. He calls them brothers and sisters. He calls them mothers.

The Holy Spirit we call our advocate, our guide, our sanctifier. But it can be very difficult to understand these things when our human wounds get in the way. If we’ve had difficulties with our own fathers, whether the difficulty was because of them or because of us, we may project that onto God. If we’ve had difficulties with friends, with brothers, with sisters, with mothers, with advocates, with people who were supposed to help to sanctify us, we may project all of these wounds onto God. When we’ve had difficulties with teachers, when we’ve had difficulties with bosses, any of these figures, any of these relationships that should actually help us to understand God better, we can really be wounded by this in a way that hinders our understanding of who God is. When we cannot understand who God is we can’t understand who we are because we are made in His image and likeness, and we are His children. Our legacy, our inheritance comes from Him. All of our goodness comes from Him. Our personality, our life is a gift from Him and if we do not understand anything about Him it’s very difficult to understand the depth of who we are. We might understand things about ourselves, naturally, but that depth, that identity, it’s going to be a problem. 

The Two Camps of Lies

So how can we go about identifying what those lies that we buy into are and how can we go about asking the Lord to help us to heal them? Well, we do tend to fall into one of two camps of lies. One of the ways we can identify which types of lies we may have bought into is by identifying their effects. 

One camp of lies that we may frequently fall into is demeaning our own value and our own dignity, believing that we are not worthy of, or that we are less than, or that we don’t deserve good things and we shouldn’t have them. That we don’t deserve an intimacy with the Lord and we shouldn’t have it. That that’s for holy people and not for us. That we can’t be ourselves and be holy. We would have to be somebody else somehow. That is a lie. That is a lie that is devaluing both who we are and who God is. 

On the other hand, we may fall into the camp of believing ourselves better than other people, that we have somehow earned what we have, our gifts, our intimacy with the Lord and if other people just did what we did they would have it too. We can believe ourselves to be more holy than everyone else. We can believe ourselves to have a right to everything that we have and this strips God of being a gift giver. It demeans our brothers and sisters, and it puts us in the wrong place. We lose sight of God and we lose sight of all of the gifts that He has given us because we’re idolizing ourselves in the process. 

So either we are stripping away everything that God has given us on one hand by believing we don’t deserve it when He has told us that we do by virtue of His sacrifice, of His love, of His dwelling within us, of His creating us. Or, we elevate ourselves to the point where we strip away the gift giver by putting ourselves as the impetus, as the one who earns, as the one who deserves, as the one who is above all these other people that the Lord treasures. We’re stripping away His mercy, His gratuitous giving. We’re stripping that all away. 

Be Honest with Him

Whichever camp you fall into, don’t judge yourself for it. You can try to recognize those symptoms, if you will, of how do I approach other people, how do I see other people, do I believe that I’m better than other people? Be honest with yourself. Do you? Maybe you do. Be honest. Tell God. He’ll work with it. I know that Jesus was quite harsh with many of the Pharisees who fell into the same camp of thinking, but actually if you read through the gospels there were only three men present who were followers of Jesus, present at the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and two of those three men were Pharisees. In the acts of the apostles there were all of these quarrels amongst the Christians because of different theological questions and those quarrels came because so many Pharisees had converted to Christianity and were bringing some ideas with them. Yes, Jesus was pretty hard on the Pharisees, but He did it to bring them home. He did it to bring them to fuller life and He wants that life for you too. Don’t be ashamed to admit to Him that you struggle with this. He helped the Pharisees through it. He’ll help you too. He’ll help you too. 

And if you fall into the other camp where you are like Peter at the side of the sea saying, “Lord, depart from me. I am a sinful man,” you are not alone. Many people have felt that way but He won’t turn away from you. Don’t turn away from Him. You are worthy because of His love. None of us deserve anything. None of us deserve what He has given us. We are worthy because He loves us. We are worthy because He has said that we are, not because we’ve earned it, not because we’ve done the right set of things, not because we are a certain way, because He said we are. It’s just like a car is like the value of the price that people pay for it. 

God paid for you with His blood and His blood is of infinite value. You are of infinite value. You are worthy of the blood of God because He paid for it. He paid for you with that blood. He paid your ransom with that blood because He loves you that much and that is how much you are worth. Nothing. Nothing can strip that away because nothing is more powerful than God. Nothing can change that reality. You can run away from it. You can deny it as though it’s not real. But the reality of it remains because the idea that you’re not that worthy is a lie. So, whether you believe it or not does not change the fact that it is not the truth. The truth is set. 

How Scripture Can Help You 

So, looking at the symptoms, what attitudes you hold towards God, what attitudes you hold towards others and what attitudes you hold towards yourself. Are those things that stem from broken human relationships? Are they things that just stem from your own spiritual insecurities? Maybe you can’t link them to a specific event or relationship in your life but you know you have them and how can you go about asking the Lord to enter in to heal them. I’m going to go back to my very favorite strategy. Open up to scripture. 

Go to the gospels and see how Jesus interacts with people who have your struggles. People who believe themselves unworthy, people who believe themselves above others, whatever your struggle is, see how Jesus interacts with them, see what He says to them and see to what end. Because if you are reading and Jesus is being so gentle with you or with someone who has your struggle, to what end, what is He bringing them to? If you are reading and Jesus is being a little bit harsh with someone who has your struggle, to what end, what is He leading them to? What is He inviting them to? How does His faithfulness culminate for that person? Where do they end up? Look for it in scripture because all of those people end up in a beautiful place in a relationship of intimacy, but it took them a while to get there, all of them. All of them. 

Lean on the Sacraments

In that, go to the sacraments. Lean on the grace of the sacraments because that is where you will get the grace to apply what the Lord is telling you through the lies of other people, through the examples of other people, to your own life. Whether that means that there’s something you need to turn away from, whether that means that you need to go to Him and say, “Look Lord, I have a really broken relationship with my dad, and I’m having a really hard time calling You Father even though I know You asked me to, I can’t relate to You that way. Show me what a father actually is because my dad lied to me about it and I don’t want to believe that lie, I want to believe Your truth because your truth is the only truth, it’s the truth. I don’t want to believe the lie my dad told me. I want to believe the truth that You have. How do You love me? What does it mean for you to be my Abba, my Father, my dad, because this man that you entrusted me to failed to show it to me. I need You to show me.” 

Maybe He’ll give it to you in the example of other people. Maybe He’ll break it open to you in scripture. Maybe He’ll show you in a book, in a story. It might be fictional, it might be secular. He might use anything to show you that. He might use nature. Ask Him to show you and then be attentive to His answer. Don’t be scandalized by the failings of others. They are not God. Look to those who truly do reflect Him in their own poverty and their own limitations, but look to those who reflect Him, look to Him. Lean on Him in the sacraments. He will meet you there. Find Him in scripture. He will meet you there. 

He is Our Healer 

Speak to Him heart to heart. Go to adoration. Look for Him in His creation outside. Pray with sacred art if it’s helpful for you. Whatever it is He can heal those relationships bit by bit. If it’s something you need therapy for, go to therapy. Don’t be ashamed of that. That might be where you flush out some of the things you didn’t even know you were holding against God because you were holding them against someone else. Whatever it is that you need, take it. Don’t be ashamed to take it, whether it’s something that needs to humble you, whether it’s something that needs to clarify a misconception you have, don’t be ashamed to take it. It is healing. It is medicine. It’s not a punishment. It’s not meant to humiliate you. It is medicine. 

We know from Exodus 15 that the Lord tells us, “I am the Lord who heals you.” He is our healer. He brings us medicine and sometimes medicine tastes gross. Sometimes it hurts. If we have a bone that’s broken crooked, and it has to be re broken to set properly often it’s worth doing it but it’s going to hurt a lot. Doing things like going to therapy, doing things like having to remember relationships or events that hurt us, doing things like having to admit that you know what, maybe we are really judgmental, that can be very painful. But the doctor is at work in that. The Divine Physician is at work in that. That can still be healing. Don’t run from the pain of medicine. Don’t run from the bad taste of medicine when you know that it’s medicine. 

So, ask the Lord to reveal that to you. Look around at your own attitudes. What lies have you bought into? Tell the Lord. Maybe He’s the one who might have to tell you. That’s okay. And ask him, “Lord, what is the next step You need me to take for my healing to understand my worth, to understand my dignity, to honor myself as a son of God, as a daughter of God, a son of the King, a daughter of the King, a son of the Creator, a daughter of the Creator. How do I honor that in my own life? How do I honor it in others?” The more that we can understand ourselves as children of God who’ve been gifted an inheritance of eternal life, gifted an inheritance of Christ Himself, the more we will come together, the more we can be whole together and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing. 

Examination of Conscience 

So, today’s going to be a bit of an examination of conscience but towards healing, not towards shame, not towards hiding, not towards self-blame, not towards bitterness towards anybody else, towards healing. Ask the Lord to illumine those things in your life today. Do an examination of conscience. And my encouragement to you would be that with whatever attitudes or bitterness, or whatever that get stirred up in that examination of conscience that you know are either hanging on to unforgiveness, or prideful, or judgmental, or judgmental of yourself, or anything like that, demeaning, whatever it is, of others or yourself, bring it to confession. 

Go to confession your next available opportunity. Bring it there. Receive the Lord’s absolution but also the grace to continue healing in that. And just watch in awe as your relationship deepens over time with the Lord. May God bless you. May He who heals us bless you. And let’s close with a glory be just thanking God for everything that He will reveal to us in this process and entrusting to Him the healing that we believe that He will work out of all of this. 

Glory Be

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

About Sr. Orianne Pietra René

Sr. Orianne Pietra René, fsp was born into a multi-cultural and multi-faith home, and converted to Catholicism at a young age.  After years of ongoing little conversions of heart, she left a teaching career to enter the Daughters of St Paul, a community of religious sisters dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel through the most effective means of communication, as St Paul did. Sr Orianne’s greatest wish is for all people to find their healing, their belonging, and their joy in Christ!